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Snowdrops in the Churchyard

It’s been a long time since I used my watercolor pencils, so I thought I’d bring them out with me on this day (in March). The snowdrops were out in a thick blanket at the “St. John the Baptist” churchyard, Edlingham and the view in the distance with “Edlingham Castle”, the Viaduct and “Corby Crags” was great; so I thought I’d try to capture a bit of it.

Beginning sketch I did while sitting on the wall of the churchyard.

Beginning sketch I did while sitting on the wall of the churchyard.

I took this picture with my cell phone as I sat on the cold stone wall of the churchyard, cold enough I was drawing with fingerless mittens on!

This is how far I got working outside.

This is how far I got working outside.

Above shows how far I got working on it outside sitting on the churchwall. I got most of the important things drawn in the right place and color for a lot of it. I was very stiff and cold so had to stop!

This shows a bit more color laid on

This shows a bit more color laid on

This shows a bit more color layers put on, more on the trees and background detailed a bit. You can’t see it but I also put some color on the castle.

Finished! In all it's vividness and rich greens!

Finished! In all it’s vividness and rich greens! That’s Edlingham Castle and the Viaduct in the background.

This little painting really tidied up nicely! The fence ended up being a bit different than I planned but I think it’s ok. I wanted to leave the whites to show the snowdrops; I mostly showed them by using the greens around them. When I was done I used a white gel type pen and touched here and there helped really pull the flowers out more. I’m also experimenting with using Doc Martin’s Bleed Proof White, a non permanent white ink, to add touches of white (tree trunks).

I hope your Spring is shaping up nicely where-ever you may be! Happy Spring!

Springtime Walk and Lane with Arched Branches

This walk was on April 13, 2012, all around on my land checking on how things were doing now that spring is well underway.  (please click pictures to see larger)

"Lane with Arched Branches" watercolor and ink

I did this watercolor study while standing in the lane, looking ahead through the natural arch formed by this one bush or small tree. Over the years as I would walk under it, I’d trim off branches hanging down right where you walk, so it formed a natural arch. The branches on top reach straight up like suckers do. I actually did most of it on one day then another time I was out I added the ink.

The first snail I met this year!

Now you can meet some of the critters I met on my walk. The first was a snail sliding along on this piece of dead grass floating in the water. I noticed this before on snails like this, his body color is blueish! Cool.

The second snail I met was this flat shaped coiled one.

Here’s a totally different kind, this one’s shell makes a coil but flat. Can you see the paler band of color at about 9 o’clock? Everything from there to the lip is new growth just from this year!

I took him home and he decided to come out to explore

Well, yes, I did tuck him into a little baggie I had with some of the water from where I found him! I stuck him in my pocket and brought him home to look at closer. I thought I’d have time to sketch him but when I realized I wouldn’t I released him right away.

Looking up to the spreading grandeur of this old oak!

Now here we are in “Oak Lane”, so named because of the very old, very huge oak trees growing there. They were probably planted some 200 years ago by the original owners of this farm as a land boundary. I love looking up at them as they tower over me, and marvel at how many years they’ve been looking down at people before me even. There are so many critters living in, on and under them!

Way up high this squirrel's tail was hanging out of it's hole.

When you’re out walking, if you keep your eyes open and maybe more importantly, stop sometimes and just stand still to listen and look, you may be surprised at what you see. As I was admiring my oaks and listening to birds I caught sight of something way, way up high, moving. It was just a stirring but it caught my eye; turns out it was a Grey Squirrels tail left hanging outside his/her hole!  How funny it was, just blowing around in the wind like a flag put out on a porch. I think it was sleeping!

This is the first butterfly of the year for me, the Mourning Cloak

Then all of a sudden in a flutter, a Mourning Cloak butterfly appeared and landed not far from me. It was sticking to the open lane where the sun was. Everytime I got too close it flew off but I was patient and followed it along, and the last shots I got were the best because I think, it was tired and didn’t want to fly as much. After that I left it alone, thank goodness for digital zoom!

I hope you enjoyed this little walk and my watercolor study. Stay tuned because I have some more posts in the works! And as always please share my blog with friends and visit my Shop at Zazzle where you’ll find TONS of my nature photos and artwork on all kinds of products.

“Pasture Lane in Early March” watercolor

 (please click to see enlarged and clearer)

"Pasture Lane in March" watercolor and ink

The land is starting to thaw at Long Lane Farm. The Robins have returned along with many other birds so I went out to look for signs of spring. It was very quiet except for occasional Chickadee’s following me or a Blue Jay calling, some Canadian Geese flying over. I made it just up the lane a little and decided to sit and do this sketch.

I carried a small camp stool over my shoulder so I sat on that and put my sketchbook on my lap along with my watercolor pan.  I used two waterbrushes and a permanent ink pen to draw it first. I found it a bit difficult to paint the grasses right in front of me, that were all matted and crisscrossed on the ground, sooo much detail! You can see I didn’t get crazy into detail, mostly just looking for the darks and lights of the scene, showing the water around the rushes and the dry color of grasses in the lane.  I didn’t fuss over it too long because my back hurt like a ‘son of a gun’! Darn back of mine, I think I may have been better to just stand like I usually do.

PS. A note to those who follow my blog, I’m so glad you keep coming back to read and see what I’m up to. I’ve not posted as much lately only because I am finally concentrating seriously on illustrating all the poems and stories I’ve written over the past years. I’ll try to share a bit as I can, but don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon! We’ll see what I end up with and I’ll keep you posted!

I made some cards with my sketch, check them out by clicking pics below:

Glossy Note Cards

Glossy Post Cards
Poster/Prints in many sizes and papers
(you can change the size smaller and the price will go down accordingly)

“Springtime Hike and Birds” 5-16-09



I thought I’d start out this post by letting my sketch page tell you what’s happening. You can read about the awful mosquitoes and tiny flies that bite and try constantly to get into your eyes, oh what a bother they were. I also started a list of birds as I heard or saw them. I did a fast sketch of a yellow wildflower that I still havd to look up, fast I say because of the bugs. Sometimes this can be good training, working quickly and just going for overall shapes of things. I gesture sketched the placement of the ‘ball’ shaped flower clusters, and drew one in detail, then later sitting at my kitchen table added details and colored it. Here’s a photo of the flower:



So Ginger (my dog and hiking companion) and I pushed onward…away from the bugs! As we made our way to the Maze (I’ll have to post a map of my land so you can follow where all these places are!) I took some photos of more birds.





Above you can see two pictures of a Yellow Warbler, what a beautiful bird with the reddish streaks on his breast. I found him at the Maze and my next blog post you’ll see even nicer pictures of him. After I caught him on film (ahem…digital) I turned and did a sketch of the “Sister Trees” along side Long Lane in the Maze. First I drew a simple rectangle and then sketched the part of the trees I wanted into the box. Later I doodled around and added the frame look, see it below. It is not a drawing of the trees in the photo below it.



And then there’s my wonderful old oak trees; one growing along my property line in the field, the other is part of a long line of oaks along the other property line with a path called Oak Lane.  Oak Lane is my favorite part of my property besides the Enchanted Forest. We call it that and at times it’s the Emerald Forest. Yes, it’s a magical place!





You can see in this photo the sky was getting grey, and the air got cooler, a rain storm was coming. Ginger and I hurried our pace down Oak Lane then up Memory Lane…We made it home just in time to run across the yard in a downpour, my camera tucked under my fleece jacket. I don’t mind getting wet but NOT my camera!

Before we left for our hike, I took a few bird pictures around the yard and barn.



One of my favorites the Song Sparrow, he loves this one particular post to sit upon.



And here’s Mr. Swallow in the tree above his nest box home, he sat there preening for a bit.



And here’s the happy home, a Blue Bird nest box that the swallows are very happy to use. This is the third year at least they’ve nested here. If you walk near they will fly circles around you and come quiet close depending on how close you are to their box. Last year I assisted them in chasing away a pair of very pushy (and not very nice) House Sparrows that were aggressively trying to take the box.



Here’s Mr. House sparrow, he and the misses decided to nest in a metal pole left from an old satellite dish. At least this year all the birds seem to be getting along, within feet of each other there’s a Starling nest in the wall of the barn, the House Sparrows next to that, then Starlings in one of my blue bird houses and the Tree Swallows in that other. I have two nest boxes out in my field, one has Tree Swallows and the other I think the Blue Birds were able to get. Pictures of them coming up soon! Hope you enjoyed the photos, soon I’ll start some small paintings of the birds.

“Iroquois Nature Refuge” 5-25-08

It’s a gorgeous day! 65-70 degrees, sunny and breezy. The first journal page is done with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush…I found it hard to get the greens I wanted.
A gorgeous bird, the Black Tern; I took so many pictures of them swooping over the water, with their very elegant coloring. The other picture is a bit more sad but shows the real life of nature, it’s a Red Tailed Hawk being chased by Red Winged Black-Birds because he’s stolen a youngster from the nest! I saw him land into the tall grasses on the marsh, and noted the huge commotion of the Black Birds. When he took off I figured something was up, and sure enough he was carrying a chick.

I spotted this little butterfly in the field as we walked and I’ve narrowed it down to two butterflies-either the Pearl Crescent or Gorgone Checkerspot…anyone help me with an ID?

This painting was done with watercolors. I used my little watercolor kit that’s tucked into a tiny “Altoids” tin if you can believe it! I’ll have to post a picture of that soon.

Some bird photos I took, two of a male Tree Swallow that was sitting by it’s nest box. A picture of a Song Sparrow on the left, and a Swamp Sparrow on the right.

This flower was drawn with a micron pen then colored with watercolor. I had to wait till I was at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage (more on that later!) to indentify it, showing it to some wildflower experts…they told me it’s a Evening Lychnis.
Click here for the link to Iroqouis Nature Refuge.

“Reinstein Woods” 5-23-08

This is about the morning I spent at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga, NY. It’s from back in May, but I wanted to put it up to keep my posts in order. The very first thing I saw, well heard, was a House Wren…busy little thing! I kept watching it flit around until it showed me where it’s nesting hole in a dead tree was. (Don’t forget to click on my sketchbook pages to see the enlarged views.)
I did a really quick sketch of a fern leaf and flowers on mint. I looked in my wildflowers book and still haven’t found a ‘blue’ flower, they say it should be pink. I need to find some more books!

May really is the month to see and hear birds when you’re out walking! Some of the birds I heard or saw: Catbird, Yellow Warbler, House Wren, Canada Geese, Baltimore Oriole, Mallard ducks, Turkey Vulture, Red Winged Black Bird, Nuthatch, Wood Ducks, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher.

I also took a few pictures of the gorgeous wildflowers including the pink ones with the bee on it, those are Honey Suckle, the pale lavender ones are Dames Rocket if I’m not mistaken. You look for the four petals it has, not five.

I came upon a Baltimore Oriole that had just had a bath in the shallow area of the pond. He was up in the branches at my eye level, just preening and shaking off. I took some pictures with my tiny camera but he was really too far away; but what in inspiring sight, I can’t wait to do a painting of one.

Then down by the wooden bridge on the Lily Pond Loop, I shot a short video clip just to show how gorgeous the day was. It was sunny but cool, the lily pads were out, no flowers yet, and birds flying everywhere. Check it out because I have another video clip taken on July 5th to show you soon…lilie flowers in full bloom!

“May Hike on My Land” 5-7-08

This post, and the next few from me, are being put up late…but I wanted to keep the hikes I took in sequence….more exciting things coming soon!
I couldn’t resist starting off with Ginger coming up the lane…it’s so green and lush in Springtime! You can see the buds are just coming out on the trees.
Well, it was a very wet, rainy day as you can see by my raingear and barn boots! I always keep a plastic garbage bag in my pocket when hiking, this makes a great surface to kneel or sit on when the ground is damp or if you want to put your camera or bag down, it protects it. The page below shows a very, very quick sketch of moneywort…it grows all over my land in damp or wet areas and in spring + summer it’ll have the prettiest yellow flowers. You can click on any picture to read my notes closer…yikes the mosquitoes were rampant!!

This is a video clip about the Mayapples and one of my old oak trees.
This is another one of my old oak trees on “Oak Lane”. I love walking up to each one and checking on them, touching their bark, feeling their power and strength.Growing under the oaks were these plants that I think are Adderstongue…I didn’t get to make a final identification yet. What I did was sketch the upper leaf at actual or life size in pencil. I shaded then smudged with my finger then used a kneaded rubber eraser to ‘wipe out’ where I wanted the light spots. Because the leaf had a mottled look I thought I’d try a little watercolor technique to recreate it. I painted the leaf green then as it was drying I dropped water onto it, this makes a nice mottled effect. It also had a fruit that was green colored. Sorry to say I didn’t get back out there to see what the plant did as far as flowering. You can see where I tested my colors in the corner of the page.At the end of my walk I came to the only Crabapple on my property, what a pretty sight when you find it in Springtime! It’s hidden in an out of the way place in the “Maze”, a field I have with paths that go all over like a maze. I didn’t get to finish the painting properly, I tried to work on it as rain was starting. But it was good practice anyways! I do have some ‘sweet’ pictures of the blossoms for future use. By the way, this was done with watercolor pencils that I then wet with a waterbrush.

The final video clip below is a nice bit of music by one of my favorite singers…the Wood Thrush!!